I know I have said it before, but there is just too much crud that comes out on DVD. Sometimes I dread looking through the new release schedule because it is so depressing. Because I am bitter and lazy, I give you a shortened list:
Away From Her (2006) directed by Sarah Polley
"Away From Her stars Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie as a couple whose marriage is tested when Christie's character begins to suffer from Alzheimer's and moves into a nursing home, where she loses virtually all memory of her husband and begins to develop a romance with another nursing home resident." Sarah Polley's directorial debut won rave reviews from everyone, and I mean everyone. Polley is better known as an actress, but in films that are usually just below the surface of the mainstream (My Life Without Me, The Weight of Water, Go). Her work with directors like Michael Winterbottom, Atom Egoyan, Wim Wenders, and Hal Hartley (some of the most interesting directors alive) no doubt gave her some of the confidence evident in this film.
Triad Election (2006) directed by Johnny To
"In Triad Election, overeducated racketeer Jimmy (pop star Louis Koo) only wants to go legit, but his past haunts his future. He’s running for Chairman of Hong Kong’s oldest, most fearsome triad and is the favored candidate of the mainland Chinese who align themselves with stability and affluence for Hong Kong, whatever the cost." Johnny To's sequel got more screen-time here in the US than the first Election, which is a shame. Election and Triad Election (aka Election 2) are both solid films and stand on their own. And after multiple viewings of both, I would be hard pressed to call one better than the other (although most say Triad Election is the better of the two.) However, the two of them together are nothing short of a powerhouse as they build to an uncompromising crescendo. Triad Election is more brutal, but it is also the smarter of the two. For fans of Hong Kong films and gangster films, Triad Election is not to be missed.
The Curious Release of the Week:
A Few Days in September (2006) directed by Santiago Amigorena
"It's ten days before 9/11 and Elliot, a CIA agent holding top secret information on the immediate future of the world, has gone missing. Irene, a French agent, must follow the trail from Paris to Venice in a race against time." Sure, it is about the days leading up to September 11th, but it takes place in France and Italy. It stars Juliette Binoche, John Turturro and Nick Nolte. A quick perusal of various reviews reveals a mixture of positive and negative. Variety called it "visually engaging but narratively schizo" and Opus over at Twitch said A Few Days in September "resembles a dysfunctional family comedy than anything that smacks of international intrigue". Not very persuasive reviews for checking out this film. This is Santiago Amigorena's first feature, but has more than 20 films to his name as screenwriter (including a personal favorite Tokyo Eyes.)